Fight the power

I’ve never been in trouble all my life. Well, that’s not strictly true. I was practically roasted alive when I was about five, when I ignored my mum’s declaration that I couldn’t buy a Screwball from the ice cream van while she and my sister were at the house of one of her friends. How she found out, I will never know. Although, in retrospect, it was possibly an error to buy one for my sister as well as myself, and take it around to the house she and I my mum were at.

Given that I had fallen at the first hurdle in my bid to be a criminal mastermind, my reluctance to clash with any kind of authority was possibly not surprising. I was never put into detention even once at school, something which my equally pious schoolfriends The Bean Counter and Broadsheet Benny can’t claim, to my knowledge. I’ve never had my driving license endorsed in the 17 years since I took my test, although admittedly that might have something to do with not having driven for the last twelve years or so. And I’m not sure I’ve ever been into a police station, let alone been under suspicion by one or more of its occupants.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got no halo. I’ve had my fair share of questionable behaviour, and I’m not in line for the sainthood any time soon. But when it comes to officialdom, I firmly toe the line. When The Special One made a joke on my visa application, I made her write it out again. I get unnerved when she fills out a form in sentence case when it specifically asks for block capitals. And if the Inland Revenue ask for me to return a form by a certain date, you can be damn sure they’ll have at least three days before the deadline.

Given this goody-two-shoes approach to life, it’s hardly surprising that I still get a little bit nervous whenever I come into the US and have to go through immigration. Even though I’ve entered the country around 60 times in the last ten years, I guess I still figure they’re somehow inexplicably going to link me to a elite band of Welsh nationalist warriors attempting to inflict leeks and daffodils on a hirtherto unsuspecting American public.

Sadly though, it appears that my respect for the law and its officials isn’t matched by immigration officials themselves.

Last weekend, I nervously approached the immigration desk and meekly handed over my documentation. Immigration officers aren’t employed for their chat, but every fifteenth journey or so, you get someone who is determined to show that they’re not all humourless robots with masochistic tendencies.

And so it was with ‘Tony’. Having extracted from me that I’m a music fan, he proceeded to question me at length on my views on digital music, presumably to the annoyance of the 252 other passengers waiting behind me for one of the two immigration officials set aside for non-Americans.

Having said that I buy music from iTunes but still love the physical product, Tony told me that he only buys music digitally these days. He used to get all his music from Limewire and Kazaa, apparently, but stopped using them a couple of years ago.

“You realised that those sites were illegal?” I said.

His response? “Why would I care if they were illegal? I stopped because I got some viruses on my computer. I couldn’t care less that it’s illegal.”

The illusion is shattered. I may go out and rob a bank later.

9 thoughts on “Fight the power

  1. Karen

    Myself and the boyfriend were only discussing our childhoods the other day and the topic of screwballs came up! We were both banned from them and if we were on the rare occasion allowed one, we were watched and the chewing gum(which was made of cats guts of course) was taken and thrown in the bin! haha Nice to see it wasn’t just our crazy Irish mothers doing it.

    I get nervous going through customs, even though I too am a goody two shoes, but I still am wracking my brain for anything they could catch me out on as they scan my bag haha

  2. Sarah

    LOL Dylan…great piece.

    Oh the nostalgia you brought back by mentioning Screwballs, I may have to chase down an Ice Cream van just to get one on my next trip home!

    I also totally understand about making your other half rewrite a USCIS form, they are not possessed of a soh! We are about to head back down that road to Remove Conditions – sigh.

  3. Melanie Seasons

    Last time I was at Heathrow the lady was really mean to me. She kept grilling me for how I – an AMERICAN – could possible have friends in London who were actually British. I had to tell her the entire story including their names, where they live, how they came to live in London, etc. I must have been up there 10 minutes. For a while I thought she was going to make me march back on the plane and go home. 🙁

    But then again, for some odd reason I get nervous coming back into America too…

  4. fishwithoutbicycle

    Hello from a fellow goodie two shoes. I won a prize once for being the best behaved pupil in school 😉

    I think I must have a ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ look since any trouble I ever got into was deemed due to the influence of wayward friends. ‘She’s easily led’ the adults would say. The things I could have got away with and just didn’t take the opportunity.

  5. Dylan

    Karen – I was trying to explain Screwballs to The Special One last night, and it wasn’t exactly easy. “So it’s a cone shaped tub of ice cream? With a bubble gum at the bottom? Why??”

    Sarah – sorry it took me so long to add you, but you should be on there now. You too, Karen.

    Melanie – The Special One used to get questioned at length whenever she came over to see me, including (when we’d just started dating) immigration officials interrogating her on whether we planned to get married while she was in the UK.

    Fish – we’re just too good to be true, aren’t we?! Although I’m sure that my mum wouldn’t agree!

  6. Benny

    two detentions, thanks

    one for smashing a test tube with my hymn book (later rescinded, possibly after I cried)

    the other a complete travesty of a fit-up, after the toilets were flashmobbed by delinquents chucking soggy bogroll. I emerged from a cubicle to the sight of Mr Mellor handing out dettos like confetti

  7. Expatmum

    I get nervous coming to the States and I now have dual nationality! I still keep thinking that they will recognise my English accent when I’m yelling at the kids, decide that because I’m traveling without a spouse it must be an 18 year old “marriage of convenience” and send me back. Actually, if they kept the kids I might be happy for a couple of weeks’ peace.

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